Dear Friends & Family,
The adventure of the Chuang family life took more turns and twists this year than ever. Lots of firsts this year. Well, at least for me; I’ll speak for myself. My gratitude for my dear wife Rachelle and my beloved son have greatly deepened. Moves me to tears just thinking of how good God has been to us, to me, through them. Thank you God for each and every one of our friends and families that read these words. God heard my prayers in my desperation over the 5 hardest months in my life to date. It took that time to find the right mix of medication to stabilize my mood swings so that I can think more clearly and feel less anxious. In that span of time, I also lost 20 pounds in a decently healthy manner. I didn’t have a specific number to reach for my weight loss, but I knew I was about to lose too much weight when I ran out of holes in my belt and I didn’t want to buy new pants and jeans.
To add more recreation and fun in my life, I picked up a bass guitar on July 4th weekend. In just a few months, I’ve been able to play along with a U2 song like Where the Streets Have No Name. Not ready for public performance, mind you, I have still many more hours to put in before my fingers can be adept at moving around on the frets. Oh, and our little family got to go to a U2 concert at the Rose Bowl during the Joshua Tree Tour. Awesome!
To try something new, I started a membership at OrangeTheory Fitness. I’ve never worked out so hard in my life! A month into it, every session still feels like survival. It’ll get better, they tell me. Others say that I’ll enjoy it more soon. I’m not so sure. But I will take it on faith and believe that it’s good for me, and stick it for a while. Plus, it’s only fitting for me to do an orange workout. (hint: those who don’t yet know, I love the color orange and try to get everything orange whenever possible).
This last quarter, I’ve started a 30-week prayer journey by typing out my prayers online at demystifying.bible — there I’ve blogged my prayers weekly as a place where I have conversations with God using everyday language. This helps me to stay engaged in prayer, spend more time in prayer, enjoying prayer more, growing in my prayer life, and praying that it helps some people that read the blog too. Where it leads, praying about that too. Thank God for every moment and every breath of life. Each new day comes with new mercies. Thank you for being a part of our lives. You’re a gift to me, to us, and many others.
My spring semester involved finding a healthy balance between my math major, my music minor, and my great books honors program. I decided that semester to drop the music minor while remaining in musical ensembles to play. Spiritually I grew that semester from receiving discipleship from my pastor, starting a contemplative group spiritual direction, and memorizing the book of Ephesians!
Spiritual direction is a ministry of listening, prayer, and discernment in which a trained director and other group members listen attentively alongside the person seeking spiritual direction. It focuses on the character of a person’s relationship with God. It has been a wonderful experience with my best friends that I continued in the fall.
I had a wonderful, thrilling summer. I learned how to drive stick shift on my very own car—a yellow Fiat Pop 500. I worked my first summer job as a research assistant for my Biola statistics professor. I also spent a lot of time with friends building relationships and making memories. I even started a scrapbook by which to remember these blissful times! That summer I also became very involved with our family church Saddleback Irvine South. I became a student leader for our College Ministry.
In my fall semester, I truly enjoyed all my school commitments with confidence. Church has also been really fulfilling. I became roommates with my best friend, which has been a blast! He is the RA for our dorm floor, and I look forward to building floor community next semester. This year has been filled with both personal and family events, both joyous and tragic. God has provided His peace through it all and I know he will continue to do so next year.
Summer: By the grace of God, I got into the prestigious Festival of the Arts Laguna Beach art exhibition where I showed my letterpress collages. These can be seen at colorbliss.studio. My theme verse for my art is Matthew 5:14a “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.” God blessed the sale of my work immensely and I was able to give to Rapha House, International Justice Mission and Hurricane Harvey relief. I also attended my Marina High School 30 year reunion.
Fall: I continue (somewhat irrationally!) to teach art and graphic design as an adjunct at 4 colleges (7 offered me work last semester). My core colleges are Chapman and IVC and I fit in others like Biola and LCAD when available. Empowering students creatively is energizing and I have opportunities to be salt and light to every student God sends me.
Nov: Finally, the big highlight this year was visiting the Museum of the Bible in DC. We spent 6 hours there and didn’t finish it all! It was truly one of the most engaging, beautiful, high-tech, relevant, enduring and profound experiences I’ve ever had. Go plan your visit, it is worth getting there! It was so meaningful I plan to go back sometime in the spring and could spend 2 full days there easily. [also see DJ’s 7 Tips for visiting the Museum of the Bible]
We attended several memorial services this year reminding us that life is short so live it well and for eternity.